•ASUU, AFED fault proposal, NAPTAN calls for caution


By Gabriel Dike and Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Federal Government said, yesterday, that it was considering a review of entry age into tertiary institutions in the country, hinting that it might peg it at 18 years,

The government said it had observed that parents were pushing their children and wards who were not matured, mentally and physically, to the university environment.

Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, told journalists after monitoring the ongoing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), in Abuja, that the policy on entry age into tertiary institutions will be reviewed as soon as possible.

The minister said the 18-year benchmark is in line with the 6-3-3-4 system of education.

“The minimum age of entry into the university is 18, but we have seen students who are 15, 16 years going in for the entrance examination.

“Parents should be encouraged not to push there wards too much. Mostly, it is the pressure of parents that is causing this.

“We are going to look at this development because the candidates are too young to understand what the whole university education is all about.

“This is the period when children migrate from controlled to uncontrolled environment; when they are in charge of their own affairs.

“But, if they are too young, they won’t be able to manage properly. I think that is part of what we are seeing in the Universities today,” he said.

On skill acquisition for those who will not be able to gain admissions into tertiary institutions, Mamman said the ministry is taking skills to pupils from primary school.

“In overall, it is 20 per cent that can be admitted into the University, Polytechnic and Colleges of Education system.

“So, where will the 80 per cent go to? That is why the issue of skills acquisition is very important. Any student who is unable to proceed to tertiary institutions should be able to have a meaningful life after primary and secondary school’s education and the only solution to this is skill acquisition.”

Corroborating the minister’s position on the benchmark of 18 years for admission to tertiary institution, the JAMB spokesperson, Dr Fabian Benjamin said 18 years is the is in line with the 6-3-3-4 education system.

Angry reaction has trailed the proposal with the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) saying it would create confusion and problem for parents.

Its National Deputy President, Chief Adeola Ogunbanjo, told Daily Sun that the government should leave the admission at 16 as obtained in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, the University of Lagos and other public universities in the country.

“The minister should understand that parents would not accept this proposal. It would create for the system and they want to cause another problem.’’

He asked what would happen to the over two million students, who sit for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) every year and the young talented students at 16 in SS3.

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“Does it mean they will stay at home or roam the street for one year,” he queried

The NAPTAN deputy president advised the education minister to throw open the proposal to stakeholders to discuss and wait for the outcome.

In his reaction, Lagos Zonal Coordinator of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Adelaja Odukoya said if there is a prayer that Nigerians of all religious persuasions need to offer fervently, it is that God should save this nation from the “dummy governing class” that manages its affairs.

According to him, the idea of raising the entry age into university to 18 years is characteristic of the Nigerian governing elite harvesting and super-imposing foreign ideas without interrogation of the “why and how” before uncritically copying them.

“Why it may be argued that the average age of entering university in USA, for instance, is 18 years, does it not stand to reason that this is because they run a difference educational system where students go to college for Advanced level before entering the university,’’ he stated.

Prof. Odukoya explained that the policy was targeted at the poor students whose parents do not have the money to sponsor them abroad where they can enter the university before their 18th birthday.

“Rather than waste precious time on ludicrous ideas like this, government should concentrate its energies and resources on fixing education in the country by adequately funding the sector and making it the bedrock of national transformation, pay all outstanding salaries of academics in the universities, settle the over four years promotion arrears and sign the renegotiated agreement with ASUU.’’

In his Reaction, President of the Association for Educational Development (AFED), Mr. Emmanuel Oji, said the question of raising the minimum age is complex and requires careful consideration of a range of factors, including student readiness, the availability of alternative education pathways, and the potential impact on a student’s educational and career opportunities.

Oji said there were arguments for raising the minimum age for university admission as it could potentially ensure that students are more emotionally and intellectually mature, and better prepared for the rigours of higher education.

“On the other hand, there are arguments for maintaining the lower age limit, as it allows students to pursue higher education at a younger age, potentially giving them more time to develop their skills and knowledge.

“If the minimum age for university admission is raised to 18, then 16-year-old students who are ready for higher education may need to pursue alternative pathways, such as vocational education or gap years, until they are eligible for university admission,” he stated.

•JAMB hits 25  CBT centres

Meanwhile, JAMB has delisted 25 CBT centres in different states for alleged infringements during the conduct of the 2024 mock of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

The implication is that the blacklisted centres are not been used by JAMB for conduct of the 2024 UTME, which is currently ongoing nationwide.

No fewer than 1, 985,642 candidates registered for the 2024 UTME and the exam started on Friday, April 19th and would end on Monday, April 29th, 2024.

The delisted CBT centres are part of the 747 approved for the conduct of the UTME out of 907 that applied for JAMB approval. In 2023, 735 CBT centres were approved and used for the matriculation exam.

A breakdown revealed that Lagos recorded the highest number of blacklisted centres with four, followed by Anambra, Edo Imo and Kaduna with two each.

The remaining states have one CBT centre delisted. They are Benue, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, Abuja, Gombe, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo and Plateau.

Among CBT centres affected are two Command centre, one university and polytechnic while the rest are private-owed centres. The board did not list the infringements against the sanctioned CBT centres.